The ubiquity of social networks reveals an interesting irony: although we are more connected than ever, loneliness is increasing and more People report that they have no one to talk to, according to several research studies. Apparently, having some friends from the real world is superior to having a million friends on Facebook, which suggests the idea that Facebook is about quantity and not quality. In fact, the purpose of Facebook is to transmit, show and inform our wide world of "friends". While this new approach has nothing wrong, it makes the old-fashioned method of sharing your thoughts with some close friends seem increasingly outdated.
For all good social networks, a corollary usually not mentioned is the fact that the more you post or tweet someone, the less time you have to read, experience or listen. Time is a limited resource. People must choose how to spend their time, and increasingly the choice is to reflect through social networks, especially about oneself or one's own experiences, and as a result, people are losing their ability to listen and engage others .
Because this dynamic affects human interactions and society, it will affect business schools. I see it exacerbating the existing trend of students who come to school with higher scores on exams, but who have a growing need for the development of emotional intelligence and social graces. Good grades alone do not guarantee employment. In today's competitive global environment, students must also develop social skills, especially the ability to interact, collaborate and communicate. Text messaging is not the solution.
As a consequence, schools must address this deficiency of students in the curriculum. Doing so will require more than offering isolated seminars without credit and Toastmasters groups. In my experience, it is highly effective for programs to emphasize hands-on learning activities and team-based projects. My school, for example, offers a variety of MBA and undergraduate consulting projects with companies and an MBA closing simulation in which students are the executive team of a company. The experiences take students out of their comfort zone, forcing them not only to use new class skills, but also to address the concerns of a real board of directors. This helps students understand how it is possible to perform tests and fail interviews.
In some aspects, focusing on social skills is contrary to the traditional emphasis of the business school on the mastery of a set of tools and analytical skills, that is, fundamental courses, specialized elective courses and knowledge of certain facts. However, today's workplaces require that young people can make sound judgments, however, we educate students in a system that emphasizes the results of standardized tests above all else, but that is another blog post altogether .
Beyond their influence on interpersonal skills and extroversion, social networks can cause other interesting effects. In the past, relationships forged between students and teachers have fueled philanthropy and loyalty to the alma mater. Such close relationships are also beneficial in other ways, as a recent study suggests that having a mentor in college leads to greater commitment on the part of students in their future careers. But if students continue to disconnect from face-to-face interactions as they spend more time online, such relationships will occur less frequently. And teachers, who seek to protect time for research, may prefer the result. For universities, the problem will not be evident for years. It will be a major problem for public universities, which have more students in the classroom and less state support to pay for their education.
In some cases, students' confidence in technology and the media will lead them to expect the same instantaneous response from faculty as from Siri or the customer service staff at an Apple store. They will be prepared to think that it is a good idea to send an email to the CEO, request an increase for all and copy a large part of the company's workforce. Already, access to the Internet in the classroom allows students to "verify the facts" of teachers, that is, when they do not show their boredom when surfing the web. Teachers should spend time dispelling the wrong notion in Google of a student instead of discussing the topic. In addition, exchanges encourage students to believe that they know more than they really know. This tendency is elevated by the belief that everything can be managed through multiple tasks. I am sure that the faculty will finally take the students to the task. At the same time, because student satisfaction is part of the data used in business school classifications, the discrepancy between students 'expectations and teachers' opinions can be manifested in a way that schools detest .
Before you conclude that I'm just an old Luddite, I know I see a lot of value in the changes brought by social networks and I recognize that we will not go back to the old days. Our hyperconnection has many clear advantages. It is democratizing and in many cases transparency has increased. Social media channels are revolutionizing the way business schools can interact with students, alumni and other audiences. Now, instead of sending a quarterly magazine, a monthly email or an annual report, schools can talk with their audience (or with a selected segment) daily. This offers an incredible opportunity to mobilize support for campus events, mentoring programs, employment referrals, fundraising and more. It would be foolish to ignore the technology that provides such opportunities.
But we must also recognize the importance of how we use our time. As technology becomes more integrated into our lives, it is not clear if it is fundamentally good (improves efficiency and quality of life) or fundamentally bad (we are becoming part of the Borg). Also, in a world where people blog alone, what will prevent them from doing more things alone? If the secret of eternal life is being connected to a central processor (ie, the Matrix), will evolving generations choose that fate over normal disordered interactions with other people?
Business schools should prepare students for the onslaught of technology while being blind to what the technologies will do or permit in the future. This makes speed more important than ever in organizations that depend on deliberative governance processes. Will business schools see this change in human experience as an opportunity to train students to generate income or a social issue that requires discussion and the exercise of social awareness? Stay tuned for an answer. It may surprise you.